Overreaction #5: Joshua Kelley and Austin Ekeler make up a true committee backfield
Last week, I suggested that Joshua Kelley is not too far off from being a 1b to Austin Ekeler’s 1a.
In Week 2, Joshua Kelley surprisingly had more touches than Austin Ekeler. In total, Kelley had 25 touches (23 carries and 2 catches), while Ekeler had 20 touches (16 carries and 4 catches).
Kelley had a fantastic Week 1 performance and clearly deserved to receive more touches but giving a first-year back five more touches than the back that just received a fairly hefty extension is quite surprising.
So, that begs the question, do the Chargers have a full-blown timeshare on their hands at running back?
In this situation, the eyes and numbers say yes, but the brain says no.
Based on simple numbers, it is clear that Kelley has carved out a big role in this offense. Listening to the praise that Kelley has earned from Lynn certainly adds to the credibility that this role could stick for good.
Despite this, I believe that Austin Ekeler will remain the lead back, if only by a few touches per week.
The reason I believe this is true is that Ekeler simply demonstrates special tackle eluding ability that no other players in this league possess.
Joshua Kelley has a role for his downhill quick-cutting running style, but there is simply no way that he could make anything out of the blocking that Ekeler had in the play below.
— Dov Kleiman (@NFL_DovKleiman) September 20, 2020
Joshua Kelley is a key player with an important role, but make no mistake – Austin Ekeler is at least the 1a back. He demonstrated that he deserves that role after getting 5.8 yards per carry against the Chiefs.
Still, with Anthony Lynn stating that this offensive scheme is not good for passing to running backs, it may be more of a timeshare than we expected initially. However, expect Austin Ekeler to remain 1a.
Verdict 5: Slight overreaction